JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Honoring individuals and groups who went beyond the call of service in helping members of the military community, Joint Base San Antonio held its annual Volunteer of the Year Awards Ceremony April 17 at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center.
Awards were presented to 14 individuals and two groups for their volunteer work in 2018. The award winners were among a total of 73 nominations submitted, covering nine award categories, submitted from JBSA members.
Individuals and groups were nominated for their voluntary service helping at various organizations throughout JBSA that support and assist active-duty members, military families, retirees, government civilians and youth.
Presenting awards and giving remarks at the ceremony were Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander; Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) commanding general; Capt. Maryann Mattonen, Navy Medicine Training Support Center commanding officer; and Lt. Col. Chad Humphrey, Wounded Warrior Battalion-East, Detachment San Antonio, officer in charge.
In his opening remarks, Buchanan said JBSA volunteers reflect the values of various branches of the armed forces, including commitment, service before self and selfless service.
“This is all about commitment – a Navy and Marine Corps value – with the idea to serve something greater than ourselves and make a difference for others,” Buchanan said.
Referring to a Biblical verse of “the spirit of send me,” Buchanan said, “All of you have that and we deeply appreciate it. You make a huge difference for each and every one of us every day. So from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you.”
Awards were presented in the following categories to JBSA members and groups: Outstanding Active-Duty Volunteer of the Year, Tech. Sgt. Quatrell Nevels, 75th Intelligence Squadron at JBSA Lackland; Outstanding Family Member Volunteer of the Year, Marguerite Blankenship, Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care, Brooke Army Medical Center; Outstanding Retiree Volunteer of the Year, John Franklin III, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Brooke Army Medical Center; Outstanding Civilian Volunteer of the Year, Paula Davidson, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center Burn Intensive Care Unit; Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year, Daniel Lamoureux, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston School Liaison Office; Volunteer Family of the Year, the Ramirez family, 359th Medical Group; Outstanding Small Group Volunteer of the Year, the Fort Sam Houston Cougar Cub PTO; Outstanding Large Group Volunteer of the Year, Fort Sam Houston Junior Enlisted Association; and the Volunteer Excellence Award to five individuals, Margie Cates, 59th Medical Support Group, Joseph Lewis, 502nd Force Support Squadron, Michelle Lockwood, 502nd Communication Squadron, Fern Oliver, 59th Medical Support Group and John Wilt, American Heritage Foundation.
Lenderman congratulated all the award winners and nominees and thanked the volunteers for what they do for JBSA, San Antonio and surrounding communities.
“It goes without saying we are extremely grateful to each and every one of you for going above and beyond, dedicating your time and your energy and your love to those around you,” Lenderman said. “You strengthen our community and you’re absolutely critical to our success.”
An oversized check, representing the monetary value in hours given by volunteers to JBSA calculated by last year, was presented to JBSA leaders.
During the check presentation. D.C. Lanier, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC community readiness specialist, revealed that JBSA members had volunteered a total of 342,396 hours in 2018, which came out to a monetary value of $8.4 million. According to Independent Sector, an organization of nonprofits, foundations and corporations, the estimated value of volunteer time is $24.69 per hour.
Nevels, 75th Intelligence Squadron NCO in charge, network and digital exploitation network analysis, was selected for Outstanding Servicemember Volunteer of the Year because of his service as a master resiliency trainer helping active-duty members in his squadron and throughout JBSA.
“I feel amazing because it shows that the military actually cares about giving back to other people and that’s what I stand for, not only doing an amazing job at work, but doing an amazing job taking care of troops and to the civilian populace around us,” Nevels said.
The Ramirez family, consisting of husband, Candido; wife, Gina; and their two sons, Lance, 15, and Evan, 13, were named the Volunteer Family of the Year. Volunteer service for the family centers around organizing and putting on 5K runs for causes benefiting military and community members, such as suicide prevention, breast cancer awareness and helping those with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Gina Ramirez, outreach resiliency coordinator for the 359th Medical Group at JBSA-Randolph, said doing volunteer service is very important to the family.
Ramirez said her two sons are involved in organizing and putting the 5K events together.
“They are directing the process of the logistics for the event,” Ramirez said. “They know how to run the equipment and where things need to be. That is a unique and important job for them because they are 15 and 13 years old, and they are taking on a leadership position in that respect.”
Ramirez said her sons are seeing the positive impact their voluntary service is doing for the area community.
“They are seeing people being affected by what they are doing,” Ramirez said. “Not only that, they are gaining leadership skills and it gives them that compassionate heart to continue serving.”